WON-Eldorado 2-day charter runs to SCI and San Nic for yellowtail, WSB, and mega-reds.
BY BOB SEMERAU
Western Outdoor News Staff Writer
LONG BEACH —A late departure out of the legendary Long Beach Sportfishing Berth 55 docks for the 85-foot sportboat, Eldorado, did not dampen spirits for the 30-anglers heading offshore for two-days of exciting fishing.
The Western Outdoor News charter aboard Eldorado is one of the most anticipated fishing trips of the season, selling out early in the year. Post-Covid, everyone wanted to get out on the water and this charter is known for anglers getting fish and having fun.
While the crew loaded live squid, sardines, and anchovy into the huge bait tanks, gift packs of High-Seas Premium fluorocarbon, gear boxes from Gamakatsu, discount coupons from both CharkBait in Huntington Beach and trip sponsor HUK Gear, all bundled into a dry-bag from Frogg Toggs, were passed out to all charter anglers. There also was a gift card from HUK Gear for $100.00 to go to the angler with the heaviest fish for the two-day trip. Daiwa sent along a huge spool of 30-pound Daiwa J-braid for anglers to use spooling up their reels, with the remaining line left for the boat crew to use in days to come.
Eldorado’s long-time skipper, Captain Jeff Villapando, gave a briefing on what to expect over the next couple of days and how to rig-up for the action to come. Capt. Villapando has been running things aboard Eldorado for three-years and has a wealth of knowledge of what works best, and where best to fish, at any given time of year.
“We’ve got some wind, with small craft warnings out at Santa Barbara Island and San Nicolas, so tonight we’ll run for San Clemente Island and work on white seabass and yellowtail,” explained the skipper. “We’ll arrive about 3:30 a.m. and try there, then we’ll run up to San Nicolas Island tomorrow night if the wind lays down,” concluded the skipper.
Eldorado’s night driver, Captain Dale Slate, took over the helm from Capt. Villapando, for the ride to SCI finding only slightly lumpy water on the way. Capt. Slate has been working with Eldorado as alternate at the wheel for about 14-months, but has many years’ experience around the SoCal fleet.
Several of the anglers aboard had been along with WON for charters over the years, making this a homecoming of sorts for many. Marvin Kobold of Yucaipa has six-packed with WON sales-rep, Dylan Depres, and with this reporter. Oxnard angler, Cee Del Toro, joined the charter for her first ever offshore experience and was rewarded with limits of rockfish to fill the freezer. Newcomers to angling, Lori and Brett Blaydes, also offshore for their first time, have been out on several of the 1-day WON–Black Pearl charters. Anglers Leonard “Buddy” Thomas, Tim Trost, Eddie Barragan, Jim Bridges, Fred Fowlks, and others have fished with WON on several occasions saying, “It’s a blast because we always have a great time with loads of prizes, and we put fish in the sack!”
Easing engines brought blurry eyed anglers on deck just after 3:30 a.m. to try for white seabass and yellowtail in the early morning hours. Capt. Slate came down on deck once the anchor was set off the west end of San Clemente Island, to help with any action to come.
“Start out with a single dropper loop, a 6-to-8-ounce torpedo sinker, and a 2/0 hook,” explained Capt. Slate, as anglers came up onto deck to start the day.
The current ran light when fishing got underway making difficult conditions to get bit. After 45-minutes the call, “Hook-up!” came loud and clear as angler Phil Miranda saw his line rip off the reel at an alarming rate.
After a 10-minute battle, Miranda boated a 28-pound yellowtail, putting the first fish on deck to break the ice. A few larger model calico and some smaller grade rockfish kept the action going.
Dropper loops, yo-yo jigs, egg sinkers and 2/0 hooks, all were tried with live squid and sardines, until around 6:30 a.m. when it was time to move down the island to a spot that yielded lots of action on forktail the day prior.
“Change out to ½-ounce egg-sinker with a live squid on 2/0 hooks,” came the call from Capt. Villapando as he set the anchor.
Shortly after settling back on the hook, a pick bite on yellowtail kept everyone’s attention. Meanwhile delicious breakfast burritos and sandwiches were served up by nine-year Eldorado veteran cook, Brian Smith, to the enjoyment of all aboard.
The egg-sinker change made a world of difference and fish began to hit the deck. Bishop angler, Jim Bridges, posted a 25-pound forktail as did Rene “Primo” Rodriguez and several others. Rodriguez fishes with his crew, made up of Eddie Ordaz, Ramsey Banuelos, and Eddie Barragan. These guys fish together when they can and, on this trip, Primo proved to be the “Hotstick” with several yellowtail and a pair of ling cod filling his sack.
Not the largest fish of the charter, but surely the most celebrated, was a smaller, 15-pound yellowtail caught by 75-year-old angler, George Girgis, and gaffed by Eldorado deckhand, Richard Macias. The affable angler could always be found with a wide grin and a friendly word and once he boated the forkie, a cheer went up around the boat.
Up in the bow of Eldorado the ironmen were hard at work tossing jigs and pulling on fish. Being a pick bite, the occasional shouts from the bow signaled another yellowtail hitting the deck.
With nearly 30-yellowtail in the fish hold, the afternoon ran out and the bite slacked as Capt. Villapando called for a move back up to the west end. Once there, calico and rockfish helped fill in the count.
Rudy Igaya is a guy that knows fishing and aboard Eldorado, the angler proved his talents. The ghost fish we hunted, but could not find, found him late in the afternoon and while most on the charter had given up on the white seabass, Igaya got bit.
“I noticed just a slight touch on the line then I slipped the reel into gear and waited.”
“I noticed just a slight touch on the line then I slipped the reel into gear and waited,” explained Igaya after the 25-pound-plus fish was on deck.
“The wait about killed me before striking so I simply came tight on the fish and it was game on,” Igaya further explained.
With a delicate touch Igaya moved around the boat like a pro, and after 15-minutes the fish was gaffed by Eldorado deckhand, Shawn Terrell, and the fight was over for the only WSB of the trip.
As darkness fell a dinner of rib eye steak, mashed potatoes, and beans was served up, gear switched out for the coming day, and anglers found their bunks once again. Around midnight Capt. Slate began the run to San Nicolas Island, arriving at 4:00 a.m.
Anchoring-up some 2-miles off the east side of San Nic, Eldorado fished the Tidal Zone with a spotty bite and no white seabass or yellowtail showing in the mix.
With only a less than stellar bite in the zone, Capt. Villalpando decided to take Eldorado for bag-filling rock fish at a secret spot further east of the island.
Traveling an hour away from the tidal zone, the first drop at this new spot gave up several huge reds and chucklehead. Several drifts were made, and bags were filling fast.
Plenty of action, and lots of tangles, made the rest of the morning fly by with reds, rockfish, sheephead, whitefish, and more adding to the count.
Cee Del Toro and Lori and Brett Blaydes bagged limits of rockfish as did most anglers fishing this spectacular magic spot aboard Eldorado.
The call for one last drop before heading for the barn came loud at just after 1:00 p.m. and rigs were run out for a final chance at something big.
Larger sized reds, sheephead, rockfish, and chucklehead obliged as loads of big fish came over the rail.
Hotstick angler Rene Rodriguez was just starting to reel in on the call from Captain Villapando for “Lines Up” when his live squid was attacked 220-feet below.
The rod bent deep, and the line clicked off his reel as the headshakes began. All other anglers worked to get in their lines while keeping an eye on Rodriguez.
As the call for a gaff rang out Eldorado deckhand Ray Pachejo jumped to his side and quickly brought the huge 17-pound ling cod onto the deck.
With all lines up the boat began its run back to Long Beach Sportfishing and Berth 55, as the crew broke out the day’s catch.
A quick look over the fish showed that a yellowtail taken the day prior by Rodriguez held up as the heaviest fish of the trip and the HUK Gear $100.00 gift card was awarded to the lucky angler.
The long smooth ride back gave all a chance to hit the racks, while the crew completed the task of filleting fish and cleaning the boat.
The final tally showed 84-kelp bass, 103-rockfish, 30-California sheephead, 81-vermilion rockfish, 1-white seabass, 66-ocean whitefish, 26-California yellowtail.
Eldorado, (424) 2-ELDO-85, www.eldoradosportfishing.com
Long Beach Sportfishing (562) 432-8993, http://www.longbeachsportfishing.com